TERROIR: NEW TERRITORY FOR CIDER
So what on earth has ‘terroir’ – a word more commonly used in winemaking circles – got to do with cidermaking?
Indeed, most people think that cider is a drink that’s more usually quaffed in pint measures, usually in the pub, and is sometimes seen as one part of a binary choice with beer.
This view can be said to result, certainly in some measure, from the fact that there is no global definition of what cider is: in the UK, for example, it’s just 35% juice content – even less in other countries – all of which can be from concentrate (from pretty well anywhere). Essentially, the focus for mass market ciders is on homogeneity and manufactured consistency and the profit that comes from volume production. ‘Terroir’ is really not part of the thought process.
Yet ciders (and perries) can be – and are – being made from 100% fruit content without the use of any concentrates – the continuation of a craft which has been practised and valued over the centuries, even millennia, by different dynasties and cultures. These are ciders made in every way like wine, the only difference being the fruit – apples and pears rather than grapes.
Such ciders are not a year-long industrial manufacturing process, but typically harvested seasonally, once a year in the autumn, just like wines and, like wines, can indeed be redolent not only of the varietals used, but the locality where they’re grown – precisely what winemakers call terroir: the soils, aspect, geography and climate of the orchards where the apples and pears come from.
There’s something else to add to the terroir mix – the human element of the people, their culture and the techniques used to bring the fruit to harvest and the cider to fruition: in other words, the skill and passion of the cidermaker.
So how much like wine can cider be?
The simple answer is very: starting with the fact the dictionary definition of wine encompasses apples and pears as much as the grape.
Ciders exclusively fermented from apples and pears, not from concentrates – the definition applied by Cider Is Wine’s protocol – include any number of wine attributes linked to the notion of terroir: like vintage, which resonates through the cider and the influences of a particular season and how it manifests itself; the land, particularly the geography and aspect which favour the type and quality of the fruit grown; and, of course, the fruit used – it’s said there are as many as 4 times more apple varieties than those for grapes, each one with its own unique taste; and last, by no means least, the knowledge of the cidermaker to bring the best out in what Mother Nature’s bounty produces and the skill employed in creating ciders that run from the driest of the dry to the sweetest of the sweet, and every point in-between.
View video all about terroir in the North American state of Vermont by Meg Maker: Vermont Cider & Terroir
As we say at Cider Is Wine: it’s all about the taste – and you’ll find a cider that’s a perfect fit with what you like to drink and match what you like to eat.
Here are just a few example, running from dry to sweet: you’ll find all these ciders on the website.
Gospel Green Brut: with aromatics of elderflower, brioche and green apples. Perfect with poultry and white meat… seafood and pasta… cheeses and desserts. See Our Shop
Cidentro Still Cider 2018: yellow gold, vibrant and clear. Aromas of hay, flavours of apple and a winning combination of richness and crisp apple-tartness delivering a lasting finish. Try with cheeses like baked Camembert, English Cheddar, Roquefort Blue; savoury foods such as wild mushroom Stroganoff, Spanish paella, bacon cheese burger; or sweet dishes like apple tarte tatin and banana bread. See Our Shop
Welsh Mountain Borders Bittersweet 2017: Pineapple acidity is balanced by the earthy flavours of orchard floor and summer stone fruits, finishing with bitter almonds, tannins and toffee. A wonderful accompaniment to roast lamb and pork, and a great match with cheese. Our Shop
Once Upon A Tree Dabinett Pinot Noir Co-Ferment 2018: vibrant dark pink in appearance, with aromas of strawberry, honey, as well as hints of vanilla spice and toffee apple and a palate that gives a huge mouthful of fruit, enlivened by a gentle spritz. Delicious with seared scallops… a great match with salmon or lobster, it also works well with duck and rare-cooked lamb. See Our Shop
Killahora Orchards Poiré Fine Perry 2017: pale golden in appearance, with a nose of pear, apple blossom, and lemon peel. This is a light, elegant and refreshing perry, with soft bubbles, with a palate of citrus and gooseberry and an interesting minerality with a well-balanced finish. Great as an aperitif., it also pairs beautifully with seafood and goes especially well with oysters. A great partner with Asian food, too. Our Shop
Broadway Press Ice Cyder® Dry Ice: a sophisticated, bitter-sharp cyder. Its rich tannins provide a delightfully complex finish with dark and malty overtones that complement its underlying fruitiness. To be thoughtfully savoured alongside spicy curries, oriental dishes or warming winter casseroles. Our Shop
Brännland Claim Iscider 2017: pale golden, straw colour with a fragrant and aromatic nose with notes of tea, honeysuckle, strawberry and white flowers, whilst the palate is golden kiwi and white grapes with pomegranate and rose petals on the long, pleasing juicy finish with a sweet rosé or blush wine character. Pair with apple desserts, gooseberry fool and homemade shortbread, and summer fruit puddings; or lighter blue cheeses, such as fresh Gorgonzola, soft-medium goats cheese; or salt, pepper and chilli chicken, paneer tikka, or Thai prawns with banana and cucumber salsa. See Our Shop